GETTING THERE: AS the map on the following pages shows, no ski area in the world is more easily accessible to so many people. Innsbruck has been, for all of its 700-year history, a major crossroads of European travel. It is on the Orient Express route from Paris to Zurich to Vienna and Istanbul and the auto route across the Brenner Pass from Italy to Munich. Austrian Airlines flies directly into Innsbruck from Vienna and Zurich, but as the airport is frequently weathered in, it is more sensible for the U.S. visitor to fly to Zurich or Munich and go up to Innsbruck by train or automobile. Round-trip economy air fare from New York to Zurich is $579.50, to Munich $587.10. The various ski towns within the Tyrol are connected by frequent trains and buses. St. Anton to the west, Kitzb√ºhel to the east arc both about 55 miles, or 1½ hours, from Innsbruck. At any time other than the time of the Olympics (January 29-February 9), when it will be a nuisance, a hired car, picked up in Munich (3 hours away) or Zurich (a 7-hour drive), is not a bad idea. A VW costs about $8 per day, and the roads are as well tended in winter as those of New England.
SKIING THERE: Nowhere in the world is there such a concentration of ski facilities. There are 28 cable cars or mountain railways and 284 other lifts—every village has its own ski hill. There are 1,100 ski instructors, and their rates are, by American standards, so reasonable that only the boldest skier would refuse to take advantage of them. Six days of ski school, 4 hours per day, costs $8. Private instruction is $2 per hour or $12 a day, but it is difficult in high season to book a private guide unless you are an old Tyrol hand with good connections. You are expected to pay for your guide's lunch, tea and give him a small tip as well. Ski lift costs are about half their U.S. equivalent—a hard day of skiing, using cable cars and chairs, at Kitzb√ºhel or St. Anton will average about $4. The season in the Tyrol lasts from before Christmas until late spring. The snow generally lasts longer in the St. Anton-Arlberg area than in Innsbruck or Kitzb√ºhel because of the difference in altitude. The even higher resort—6,266 feet—of Obergurgl has shirtsleeve, lederhosen, corn-and-powder conditions into May. It is possible to rent metal skis and poles for $1.20 per day, but not boots. It is no longer necessary to go through the uncomfortable subterfuge of wearing your ski boots aboard the plane. They are now included in the special rate for skis of only $7 on overseas flights. On weekends in Kitzb√ºhel and St. Anton, it is imperative to buy a time ticket for the cable car the night before. Otherwise you may wait an hour, even two. During the Olympics there will be plenty of skiing available to Innsbruck visitors. After the Olympics everybody will want to try the Tyrol's newest ski area at Lizum, 18 miles from Innsbruck, built in a dramatic rock-walled cul-de-sac for the women's downhill and the men's and women's slaloms.
STAYING THERE: The Tyrolean bed-and-breakfast inn is one of the charms of the country. For as little as $2 per night, one is bedded in eiderdown comfort and given a breakfast of coffee, rolls and jams (eggs and porridge are extra). From these cheerful beginnings, accommodations get plusher and more expensive—up to about $20 a day for top hotels, with meals and a private bath included. In most inns and hotels, it is obligatory to take full pension in ski season—and that means all three meals are paid for. No matter how good the dining room, this is a drawback in towns where there is a choice of restaurants full of zither twanging and good food. Everybody who skis eats lunch on the mountain—goulash soup, sausages—in the best of times on a sunny terrace. The hotels either give one a chit for lunch in the mountain restaurant or a box lunch—which is a bore. There are also mountaintop chalets, such as Kitzb√ºhel's Hochbrunn and Igls' Berghotel atop the Patscherkofel, but you are stranded when the lift stops at dark. Sec these with someone you love.
The Austrian State Tourist Department, 444 Madison Avenue, New York 22, will send you a list of all accommodations in the Tyrol, together with maps showing their locations, number of rooms and prices. It is then best to book by writing to the local tourist office, or Verkehrsverein, stating your preferences. There are 75,000 beds listed in the Tyrol. No inn will be uncomfortable. Some will be extremely congenial. All rooms in Innsbruck, Seefeld and Igls are solidly booked for Olympic dates. But a special Olympic housing office, St√§dtisches Verkehrsb√ºro, Burggraben 3, Innsbruck, promises to find any wayfarer a room in a private house within an hour of the Games. Or you can commute by bus or train from St. Anton and Kitzb√ºhel where rooms, though tight, can be found. Innsbruck has 100,000 people and many hotels. The Tyrol and the Europa are big, modern city hotels across from the railroad station. They have first-class dining rooms and will house Olympics officials during the Games. In Old Innsbruck, the 16th century Goldener Adler has remodeled its interiors without destroying its ancient, Goethe-slept-here charm. A skier visiting the Innsbruck area would do well to stay at the Mariabrunn, a short funicular ride up from Innsbruck to the Hungerburg plateau at the foot of the Hafelekar lift. On the opposite side of town, in Igls, the Golf-hotel Iglerhof is at the foot of the Patscherkofel lift. Both areas are very popular with British Ski Club members—known for their recognition of a ski bargain. Outside Innsbruck at Seefeld, a thriving town near the German border, there are a number of posh establishments, particularly favored by visitors from Munich. The Nordic Olympics events will be held in the vicinity, and there are ice skating and curling in the shadow of an onion-domed church. The Karwendelhof here is one of the most luxurious hotels in the Tyrol, with baroque angels and antlers on every wall. Each bedroom has a balcony overlooking the town and mountains beyond. The food is excellent—house specialty, saddle of venison. In the new area at Lizum there is a new 200-bed hotel, The Olympic, at the base of the bowl, that could turn into one of the most popular places in the Tyrol, once the Olympics clear out. In Lech, a Breughel-like village on the other side of the Arlberg Pass from St. Anton, the Gasthof Post is a candy-pink and carved-wood hostelry favored by the Dutch royal family. Inside, it is all chamois horns, badger skins and Gem√ºtlichkeit. In St. Christoph (see color), the dominant structure is the Hospiz, a cozy inn that dates originally to 1386. The original burned in 1957, but the new one is furnished with antiques that were saved from the old. There is a lively band for dancing and a lift that takes you up the Galzig from whence you can ski down to St. Anton. In St. Anton, the Post is headquarters for all social life—particularly at 5 o'clock when boy meets girl in the tea dance crush. There are 14 hotels and 98 inns in Kitzb√ºhel. First choice of international ski society for years has been the Goldener Greif, a gilded inn with a heated plunge off the lobby, Pucci shirts at the bar and the Tyrol's only gambling casino. It has a new rival for chic—the Postkutsche, a most elegant small inn, each bedroom individually decorated with antiques and the best, and most expensive, restaurant between Salzburg and Zurich. The Aga Khan stops here. The Guido Reisch is a big hotel popular with young people who want to be where the action is—the tea dance at its Cafe Tenne starts at 5. The Grand, in its own park, is bigger but quieter. Toni Sailer and Anderl Molterer both own comfortable pensions off the main street.
EATING: Skiers walking the vaulted Gothic arcades of Innsbruck's 600-year-old inner city are struck by the steaming, spicy odors of sauerkraut and smoked pork emanating from the windows of the Stuben that line the streets. Tyrolean food is hearty fare, meant to stoke the mountain farmer in winter. The most characteristic dish, Bauernschmaus, or farmer's delight, has all the solid Tyrolean virtues piled on one plate—a sort of Austrian choucroute garni made of sauerkraut, smoked pork, sausages, boiled potatoes and Kn√∂del, a fist-sized dumpling filled with bits of bacon. This is downed with tankards of good Tyrolean beer, such as Adambr√§u or Kundlbier. There are strong Balkan influences from nearby Yugoslavia—dishes the Austrians call Spiess. These are meats cooked on a spit, like shashlik, and served with curried rice. At the Alte Haus Delevo on Innsbruck's Maria Theresienstrasse, one of the most popular restaurants in the Tyrol, try the Zigeunerspiess, or gypsy spit. From Switzerland, the ski areas have imported fondue bourguignonne, and you will not find it served in a more delightful place than St. Anton's Tannenhof, the best restaurant in the Arlberg. From Vienna comes Wiener-schnitzel and Backhendel, an Austrian version of Southern fried chicken. The most celebrated dessert of the Tyrol is a subtle concoction which actually comes from Salzburg—the Nockerln, a sugary egg soufflé made mostly of Alpine air. There is nothing subtle about Tyrolean breads and cheeses—they both are crusty with character: grauer K√§se, or gray cheese, is not considered edible until worms are visible. It is eaten with salt, pepper and vinegar. Innsbruck's best restaurant is not in the guidebooks—it is the Schubertstube, an unpretentious place on the Anichstrasse. Erzebeth, the cook, is a refugee from Budapest. Her tiroler Leber—calves' liver in thick gravy—served with a St. Magdalener Traminer, the best of the South Tyrol (Italy) red wines, is guaranteed to make a Viennese forget his beloved Sacher. Kitzb√ºhel has a more international clientele and a more international cuisine. At Alt Wein, for example, there are specialties from 12 different countries, including beefburgers and baked potatoes from the U.S., corned beef from England and paella from Spain. At the Goldener Greif's upstairs grill, the trout is caught daily from the Inn River, and the Alt Kitz-biihel has a special beamed cellar downstairs for serving fondue bourguignonne. One of the best meals anywhere is at the Post-kutsche, where any "post coach" hitched outside is likely to be a Ferrari. It starts with Malossol caviar and iced vodka, progresses to fresh turtle soup and reaches its apotheosis with a superb steak, served with mushrooms and foie gras. There are French fried potatoes, salad greens from the Italian south, pears flambé and a carafe of excellent Burgundy—and the price is $9 per person. The simplest meal in the Tyrol is found at Krainer's tiny sausage stand in front of the Goldenes Dachl in Old Innsbruck. Here it is the custom for Innsbruckers, after a winter's evening in a Bierstube, to stop for a Weisswurst—a delicate white veal sausage—or a small red frankfurter with brown bread and mustard. They should taste so good at Yankee Stadium.
SHOPPING: The best shops are in Innsbruck and Kitzb√ºhel. Not surprisingly, Tyrolean hats and all the pins, feathers and brushes to decorate them, arc everywhere. A fine velour costs $6. In Innsbruck at Franz Schwammenhofer, you will find lederhosen and all sorts of other leather apparel. A man's fine lederhosen, with suspenders and the works, costs $22.50, but is meant to outlast the man. Tiroler Heimatwerk, Meranerstrasse 2, Innsbruck, is a state-supported shop selling Tyrolean handicrafts. You will not find a better buy than their snowflake-patterned hand-knit sweaters, mittens and knicker socks. A cardigan, with silver buttons, costs $16. You can order by mail. Kitzb√ºhel is the best place to buy skis, ski clothes and boots. The Kneissl factory is just over the way at Kufstein, and a pair of White Stars costs $118. Examples of Kitzb√ºhel ski fashions are found in the Sporting Look story on the following pages. The hand-knit sweater worn by Patricia Waller comes from Kitzb√ºhler Handstrickerei. It costs $31. Her stretch knickers are made to order by Reinalter for $22.50. The shrunken wool Walkjanker, which every visitor seems to buy, costs $14.50 at Sport Aim. And the red loden cape, worn by Lys Lender, comes from Nagele of Kitzb√ºhel. It costs $19. Robert Kanzler has more than 100 colors of stretch fabrics from France, Switzerland and Austria. He takes two days to make the best-fitting stretch pants in Austria for $39. Matching stretch tops, popular new ski fashion for both men and women, cost $36. There are several excellent boot makers. Best known is Haderer. Write in advance for a measurement form, and get your final fitting after you arrive, otherwise it will take eight to 10 days. Their racing boot costs $66, their recreational boot, $44.50.
AFTER-SKIING: From 5 to 7 there is always tea dancing, where you meet crowds of people you did not meet in class, in line or on the hill. After dinner, dancing moves to darker corners. In St. Anton, it is the Valluga Bar; in Innsbruck, it is the Stork—both with scarcely enough light to change records by. In Kitzb√ºhel, it is the Alt Wein—more space, no more light. The Olympics coincide with Fasching, the Teutonic pre-Lenten orgy of costume balls and parties. Do not be surprised at the masks, wigs and costumes you will see barreling down the Hahnenkamm.